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Wasson savors win over Harrison in final regular-season home basketball game
The final buzzer sounded Tuesday and nobody rushed for the exits.
Instead, the large crowd that watched Wasson’s 58-35 win over Harrison – its final regular-season home game – spilled onto the floor to engage in fellowship with not only the players, but also with longtime friends who once competed on the same court and walked the halls of the 54-year-old school that will be shuttered at the end of this school year.
“I had no clue who I'd see here,” 1991 graduate John Furda said. “My dad graduated in Wasson’s first graduating class. There were lots of good friends here. Even with the closure, Wasson will always be my home.”
The Thunderbirds treated their large home crowd to a convincing win to extend their streak to 14 games, the longest in 4A after Sand Creek had its 18-gamer snapped earlier Tuesday. DJ Hanes, one of 12 seniors honored in a pregame ceremony, led all scorers with 22 points.
Anthony DeShazor and Quincy Harding led Harrison (10-10 overall, 4-7 4A Metro) with 12 points apiece. For Harding, a junior, he still hasn’t grasped the full impact of not playing against Wasson next year.
“Not coming here again, it’s going to be really weird,” Harding said. “I don’t know how different it’s going to be. I remember playing against Richie (Perea) and DJ in middle school.”
After falling behind 7-2, Wasson (19-1, 11-0) scored the final 10 points of the first quarter and never looked back, opening up a 27-13 lead at halftime.
“We do look up in the crowds, look up to see who is supporting us,” said Dominic Garcia, who came off the bench to score nine points. “I feel good about the alumni here to see us.”
Those who weren’t catching up with friends courtside after the game found themselves wandering down memory lane in the “Hall of Fame” hallway that leads in and out of the gym.
Some found former teachers and coaches, while others looked spellbound at the names and faces of generations past.
“I’m proud, definitely proud,” 1994 graduate James Gaulden said. “It’s sad, but I guess it has to be that way. I’m just here reminiscing, looking at the good, old days.”
Tuesday’s game not only featured several hundred alumni, but also a handful of former Thunderbirds coaches and teachers. Bob Belt, who led Wasson to its only boys’ state championship in 1978, was in attendance, along with CHSAA Hall of Famer Tom Falgien, Dick Westbay and Mike Hartinger.
Hartinger, a 1973 Wasson graduate who played on the 1971 3A state football champs, later taught while coaching football, baseball, wrestling and girls’ golf for nearly 30 years.
“It’s really sad that this is happening,” Hartinger said.
In the meantime, Wasson figures to earn a first-round bye in the upcoming 4A state playoffs and host a second-round game on March 1. But the final regular-season home game held its magic for four quarters, and then some.
“I’m going to stay until nobody is in the gym,” said T-Birds guard Angel Lingao, who transferred from Fountain-Fort Carson. “For me to stay is important. I knew the potential for this year, getting together with longtime friends and going out with a bang. We’re still striving to get our goal.”